Iowa football takeaways: Reiff suspended, Fant honored, Kinnick capacity falls

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

CHICAGO — Iowa defensive tackle Brady Reiff will be suspended for the season-opener after he was cited for public intoxication last weekend, coach Kirk Ferentz said Monday at Big Ten media days.

Iowa opens the season Sept. 1 vs. Northern Illinois.

Reiff, a junior from Parkston, South Dakota, figures to be a key backup to starters Matt Nelson and Cedric Lattimore this season.

Ferentz said he had met with his player earlier Monday. 

"I'm not pleased about what we learned about Brady Reiff this past weekend," Ferentz said. "He's going to go through a couple steps," starting with the suspension.

Ferentz sees two potential benefits to NCAA's new redshirt rule

Ferentz, like most coaches, continues to be a strong proponent of a new rule that would allow freshmen to appear in up to four games while still maintaining their redshirt year.

He especially likes it for quarterbacks, he said Monday, noting that rule would have benefited Iowa in the past. This year, freshman quarterback Spencer Petras arrived on campus in January after graduating early and is third on the depth chart entering fall camp.

"I look at it kind of two-sided," Ferentz said of the rule. "It gives you an opportunity early in the season maybe to test-drive somebody and see how they come along. And if it doesn't look like it's going to work and materialize, then you can pull back and protect that year.

"Then flipping it around, there can be other guys who start to ascend during the course of the season. So it's not necessarily due to injury or attrition — that could happen — but it might be just ... 'This guy's really coming on, he can help us the last couple of games.'"

The Hawkeyes are bringing in a class of 18 rookies this summer. In addition to quarterback, cornerback and running back are other positions where the team could use some help.

Hawkeye tight end Fant tabbed as one of Big Ten's best players by media

Iowa junior tight end Noah Fant was one of 10 Big Ten Conference football players to earn preseason honors Monday at the league's annual media days event.

The 10 players were chosen by a media panel, with five athletes coming from the West Division and five from the East.

Fant, at 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, burst onto the scene last fall when his 11 touchdown catches were the most by any tight end in FBS. He caught 30 passes for 494 yards, for a gaudy 16.5 yards per reception. That also was tops among all tight ends.

Iowa tight end Noah Fant celebrates as he runs in for a touchdown during the Hawkeyes' game against North Texas at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

Fant is Iowa's most dynamic offensive player, a rare talent who already has high expectations. Some NFL draft analysts already project him as a first-round pick in the spring.

Fant forms one-half of what could be a terrific tandem of Hawkeye tight ends this season. Sophomore T.J. Hockenson, who caught 24 passes a year ago, joined Fant on the preseason "watch list" for the John Mackey Award. Iowa is one of only three colleges that had two tight ends on that list.

The Hawkeyes have had six players named to the Big Ten preseason honors list in the last five seasons. They include Fant (2018), Josey Jewell (2017), C.J. Beathard (2016), Desmond King (2016), Drew Ott (2015) and Brandon Scherff (2014). 

The other Big Ten players on the 2018 list include Rashan Gary (junior defensive lineman, Michigan), Brian Lewerke (junior quarterback, Michigan State), Nick Bosa (junior defensive end, Ohio State), J.K. Dobbins (sophomore running back, Ohio State) and Trace McSorley (senior quarterback, Penn State) in the East Division. The West Division includes Fant, Stanley Morgan Jr. (senior wide receiver, Nebraska), Paddy Fisher (sophomore linebacker, Northwestern), T.J. Edwards (senior linebacker, Wisconsin) and Jonathan Taylor (sophomore running back, Wisconsin). 

Kinnick capacity, as expected, dips below 70,000

More leg room will mean fewer fans can fit inside Kinnick Stadium this fall. The plans for renovating the north end zone at the 89-year-old stadium always meant that capacity would fall below the 70,000 threshold.

On Monday, Iowa announced the official capacity for 2018 at 69,250. It had previously been 70,585. The $89.9 million north end zone project is expected to be finished in time for the 2019 season.

Big Ten commissioner: It's time for a college football 'availability' report

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Monday in his opening remarks that he supports the notion of offering weekly injury reports for college football players, much as the NFL as done for years.

But Delany, in his 30th year leading the conference, said he would expand it and call it an "availability report."

"Whether that comes out of an injury or whether it comes out of eligibility or comes out of some transgression of one kind or another, I think we need to do that. I think we need to do that nationally," Delany said. "And I think the reason we need to do that is probably, with the exception of the home field, the availability of personnel is critical to" gamblers.

The question arose after a court ruled this year that individual states can allow wagering on sports, possibly including at the college level. Football coaches who spoke here after Delany said they would be willing to comply with any directive to list injured and inactive players each week.

"We'll do what everybody else does," Ferentz said. "The NFL's got it pretty much spelled out, so if that's what we choose to adapt, we'll go with it."

As for allowing gambling on college sports, Delany said: "We would prefer a federal framework that either omits college sports from gambling at the state level — and if that's not possible — that there be some standardization of a framework so that college sports, high school sports, Olympic sports, those categories of sports receive some additional protection."